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    We ate breakfast again in hotel breakfast room – same menu as yesterday, only my wife didn’t try to hard boil an egg.  Then we packed up and checked out and started for Beaune.  We were on about half of the A6 toll-road that we were on yesterday going to Abbaye Fontenay.  Again we paid correctly and went through the tollgate without difficulty.    I forgot to mention that the road from A 6 to Vezelay was like driving on W.Va. mountain roads– 2 lanes, very curvy and up and down hill.  Our car is a manual 5 speed – diesel.   My right arm and left foot got a lot of exercise… it was 13 miles which we did for a total of coming and going twice.

    It took about an hour and a half to reach Beaune.  It is a beautiful old town and quite active compared to Vezelay.   The population of Beaune is 22,012 compared to Vezelay with 478. 

     Beaune lies at the heart of Burgundian vineyards. The town was first a center under the Gauls,  and then an outpost of Rome. Beaune was the seat of the Dukes of Burgundy to the 14th century. After the death of Charles the Bald, last Duke of Burgundy, in 1477, the town refused Louis XI's efforts to annex it and gave in only after a five week siege. The relatively well-preserved ramparts form an almost continuous wall walk. We will see some of them tomorrow. They were built between the end of the 15th century in the middle of the 16th century and are adorned with a few surviving towers and eight rustic bastions of various shapes. The double bastion, originally a Castle, is known as the Bastion St. Jean. The encircling moat is now occupied by gardens, tennis courts etc.

    Our GPS got us right to the hotel Le Cep.  It is a beautiful first class old hotel on a very narrow street.   They took our car somewhere to park it.  Our room is large and very beautifully appointed. 



    After we checked in, it was time to have lunch.  The desk clerk recommended a nice bistro around the corner.   We both had salmon with a sauce and noodles.  It was delicious.  We were only a block from the Beaune Hospice (Hotel Dieu) which is one of the reasons for coming here.  I had made a MODEL of it.  


    The end of the hundred year war in Beaune did not bring about a hoped-for prosperity. Unfortunately, vast poverty follow this conflict, which stretched over a century. All the cities and villages suffered from famine, while the poor and starving, who had no place to go, perished in squalor. Finally, the plague appeared, adding to a long list of devastation. Pleas and outcries from all over the country were sent to those in power, begging for assistance .Nicolas Rolin and his wife, Guigone de Salins were moved to act. In 1441, the Chancellor asked for the Popes' support to create a hospice in Beaune or in Autun. Finally in 1443, the deed of foundation was pronounced, and Beaune was chosen in as the site because it suffered more from the miseries.

     The best Flemish artist were chosen for the design. Every detail was planned to make this foundation a true palace, the "palace for the poor" with no expenses spared. The overall hospice was designed as a vast rectangle. The exterior was extremely austere and appears as the highest building of the area built with expensive material like slate and stone. On the interior all the rooms were laid out around a large sunny courtyard. 

    It took eight years to complete the project. This intense activity and lavish design stimulated the regional economy, creating prosperity throughout the entire region of Beaune and beyond.  

    Today, from the exterior, the building looks rather plain, with its tall and steeply pitched slate roof and dormer windows, the weathervanes, the delicate pinnacles, and lace work cresting of lead. The roof line is broken by the bell tower topped by a slim Gothic spear 98 feet high.

    The delicate roof above the porch is composed of three slate gables terminating in pinnacles. Each weathervane bears a different coat of arms.

     Entering the courtyard, we saw the building roofs. These famous, beautiful roofs are punctuated by turrets and a double row of dormer windows, topped by weathervane's adorned with heraldic bearings and small spires. The roofs are of colored glazed tile in geometric patterns.

    In the interior of the immense hall- the Grand Salle, measuring 236 feet long and 46 feet wide was used as the poor ward.

    It has a magnificent timber roof in the shape of an upturned keel and is painted throughout.

    The ends of the tie beams disappear into the gaping mouths of monster heads.


    There is a double row of beds, each bed in its own compartment with red and white bedclothes. Each bed has red draperies which can be closed for privacy. Outside of the drapes are a small table and a chair.  My model has part of the roof cut out so the rows of beds can be seen.


    At one end of the room stands a large life-size polychrome wooden statue of Christ seated and bound, which was carved from a single piece of oak. At the opposite end is a Flamboyant style screen separating the Grand Salle from the chapel which was reconstructed in the 19th century. Over the altar and is large stained-glass window.


    Leaving the chapel, we entered a small room with 12 beds and a number of beautiful paintings over the altar. Around the corner was a large room which had a model of the building plus exhibits of medical instruments and history of the building.  

    The next stop was kitchen which was set up as an old fashion scene around a huge Gothic fireplace with his double hearth and automatic spit. There were manikins dressed in the habit of the nuns, situated as if preparing a meal.

    The next room was the pharmacy. The walls were lined with shelves holding jars of medicine and herbs.

    There was another building in the courtyard which contained a large room which exhibited the famous polyptych of the Last Judgment by Rogier van der Weyden. This large masterpiece of Flemish art, commissioned by Nicolas Rolin, previously graced the altar in the Grand Salle. It was completed between 1445 and 1448 and extensively restored in the 19th century.

    This was a very wonderful place to visit. It served as a general hospital until 1971 when it became a museum for tourist. SEE MY MODEL. We spent a long time there, and then walked to the cathedral which is about 2 blocks from our hotel.


    The first Cathedral in Beaune was built in a swampy area in the eighth century. It was dedicated to St.Baudele, a martyr born in Nîmes, whose relics have been brought back by monks in order to prevent the Saracen's attacks.

    At the beginning of the 12th century, as the Crusades were being launched, the church had become too small so the knights going to Jerusalem donated to the clergy to help build a new church.

    In the present Cathedral was built in the 12th century  by Etienne de Bage, the Bishop of Autun, who build at the same time the Cathedral of Autun. The Beaune Cathedral is one of the largest Romanesque buildings of Burgundy, built on the model of the Abbey of Cluny.

     The nave has six bays and an extended transept, a choir with an ambulatory and three radiating chapels. The 13th and 14th centuries altered the building with some Gothic structures – the upper parts of the apse and the bell tower. The nave is supported by flying buttresses, two towers stand on the front and an open porch built in the 12th century.

    The steeple surmounting the crossing of the nave and transept, was built in several stages. The first floor built in the 12th century, consisted of blind arches and fluted pilasters. The upper floor of the 13th century had three lancet windows between two blind arches on each side. The dome lantern of the Renaissance style, dates from the 1580s. There were a number of interesting tapestries as well as beautiful stained-glass windows in the apse.



    We went back to the hotel and had our complimentary drinks in the hotel’s courtyard.  We rested a little while and walked back towards the Hospice to the  Petit Paradise restaurant, where my wife had made reservations months ago.   It was small, and locally owned. We had a wonderful dinner.  I had a small steak with a cheese sauce and she had a leg of lamb.  I had a dessert that tasted like toffee pudding and my wife had a plate of 4 kinds of cheese----some of it was pretty smelly. She had been complaining that she’s been in France several times, but never had a “cheese course”. 


    As walked back, we were told about several buildings that had light shows.  We saw two of them –one on the cathedral.   We were really full …to full to go to bed…and very sleepy.


    Day 1 - Paris

    Day 2 - Sens

    Day 3 - Vezelay 

    Day 4 - Abbey Fontenay, Semur-en-Auxois, Vezelay -

    Day 5 - Beaune

    Day 6 - Beaune, Autun, Citeaux, Chateau du Clos Vougeot-

    Day 7 - Cluny  

    Day 8 - Cluny 

    Day 9 - Paray-le-Monial and Clermont-Ferrard

    Day 10 - Le Puy-en-Velay 

    Day 11 - Avignon 

    Day 12 - Avignon to Nimes

    Day 13 - Avignon

    Day 14 - Marseille

    Day 15 - Marseille

    Day 16 - Marseille

    Day 17 - Marseille to Aigues-Mortes

    Day 18 - Carcassonne 

    Day 19 - Carcassonne to Toulouse  (posted 10/6/15)

    Day 20 - Toulouse

    Day 21 - Albi

    Day 22 - Toulouse